Category: Productivity

1. Thou shalt not sleep in a bed.

2. Thou shalt sleep with shoes and lights on.

3. Thou shalt only play video games standing up.

4. Thou shalt set at least 3 alarm clocks, a timed water-squirting contraption, and make a friend call  5 minutes later just in case.

5. Thou shalt not lie or sit while in zombie mode.

6. Thou shalt not indulge in caffeine, television or books for the first week of adaptation.

7. Thou shalt not lay in a bed with man or woman, but may have intercourse while standing.

8. Thou shalt not think about falling asleep when trying to fall asleep.

9. Thou shalt stand up immediately after each nap.

10. Thou shalt preserve brain health by quitting sleep attempt if not adapted in 30 days.


One day before the new year, I placed a $600 order of books at Barnes and Noble, after almost deciding to drop out of college last month and opting to take a leave of absence instead. Here’s the proof:

The Plan: I will attempt to burn through 1 book a day.

Why: In pursuit of starting my new business with “more confidence than an MBA”, I placed a $600 order of business-related books from Barnes and Noble. I selected the books from, a community started by Josh Kaufman, who asserts that a full education in business may not require/call for/justify forking over the $250,000 typical for completing an MBA program. Even less useful is a bachelor’s in Biology, which I have chosen to pursue, mainly because it entails the lowest number of “major requirement” classes.

Rather, it may be as (relatively) cheap as reading these 77 books on business concepts such as marketing, productivity, leadership, and creativity. After careful inspection, it’s clear that not all of the books apply to each person’s interests. For example, books in the “Corporate Skills” category will be of little use for an aspiring entrepreneur like myself, while books under “Creativity and Innovation” will provide valuable insights on brainstorming novel business ideas.

Of the 77 books on PMBA, listed below are the 35 that (1) I have not already read and (2) directly address the particular areas that are my blindspots.

Here’s the catch: There’s no use sitting around for years reading books without applying the ideas.

So, I am setting a time limit of 50 days to spark through the learning phase. This means I have time for one book a day on weekdays, and free days on weekends in case I suffer through a few verbose authors or bad reading days. That’s 5 books per week.

As with my previous experiments, I anticipate some objections:
Isn’t one book a day too fast for you to absorb all the concepts in such high quality books?
Sure, but that’s not the point. Hopefully, after reading these books, I will have the confidence of knowing basic principles that form a solid foundation for my journey in the entreprenurial world. I may not remember the details, but I will know where to find them in my book collection when the time comes to refresh on, say, that website appication that does business expense tracking.

If all goes to plan…I shall read through each of these books and, to make it an even bigger ambition, I will also try to outline the key take-away points and write a review for each book. Time to watch Janet spectacularly crash and burn in “another one of her experiments, like that poly-something sleep stunt“, which is going quite successfully this time around, thank you very much.

This’ll be interesting.

The following is a record of my first (aborted-too-early) week-long attempt at polyphasic sleep, starting with the Uberman schedule and then tentatively switching to Everyman.

Day 1: Sat Jun 27

Had slept 6 hours the night before, woke at 5:30am.

1:30pm- Didn’t fall asleep; laid in bed, felt tired after workout, but no sleep. Feeling…normal.

5:30pm- Didn’t fall asleep. Feeling…normal.

9:30pm- Skipped nap; caught up in a conversation with a very talkative acquaintance. Feeling…normal again and boring.

Comments: Perhaps due to the abruptness of the alarm that sounds at the end of each nap, I wake up feeling as if several hours have passed since falling asleep, and I have to remind myself of having only lied down for 20 minutes.

Day 2: Sun Jun 28

1:30am- Asleep for what seemed like a few seconds; had difficulty staying awake until 1:30 but suddenly perked up right when it was time to sleep. Feeling…wired, but without the caffeine.

5:30am- Same feeling except actual-sleep-time seemed longer, maybe a few minutes; a few waves of sleepiness, but not a problem when I was doing my work. Feeling…wired, but focused, as if pulling an all-nighter for a large, important assignment.

9:30am- Slept for longer than before, almost to the “enough sleep” point. Feeling…normal and alert.

1:30pm- Accidentally set alarm to 1:30AM instead of PM, slept for 1.5 hours. Feeling…normal, except having had one sleepy phase.

5:30pm- Didn’t fall asleep. Feeling…normal.

9:30pm- Didn’t fall asleep. Feeling…normal.

Comments: In the first couple of naps during which I did fall asleep, my sense of time was “off” when I woke up. It felt like I had been in bed for several hours. Let’s call it the time warp phenomenon. Seemingly reduced appetite.

Day 3: Mon Jun 29

1:30am- Overslept to 7-8am (6 hours)

5:30am- Overslept again! Feeling…still tired, but normal once out of bed.

9:30am- Didn’t fall asleep. Feeling…normal.

1:30pm- Didn’t fall asleep, had to sleep on the stone floor of the employee break room. Feeling…really fighting to stay awake until next nap, despite being occupied by mechanic work.

5:30pm- Didn’t fall asleep during the second attempt to sleep at work, in the bathroom this time. Feeling…perked up back to normal.

9:00pm- Getting more real sleep than before during naps, seemed like I was interrupting good rest when the alarm sounded. Feeling…slightly more rested than in the afternoon.

Comments: After the first oversleeping incident, I figure an easier way to start off would be to go to sleep 30 min earlier, so allow for falling asleep time, and waking at the same time as one normally would. This would be done until a proper amount of rest is achieved by 60 minute naps what is normally done by 8 hours. Then should begin a progression of shortened naps down to 20 minutes each. Maybe there is something called the “extended sleep-start” method.

Day 4: Tue Jun 30

1:00am- Fell asleep readily.

5:00am- Fell asleep readily.

9:00am- Took some time falling asleep.

1:00pm- Not very sleepy, but not much fuss going to bed.

5:00pm- Not very sleepy, but not much fuss going to bed..

9:00pm- Took a long time fussing around getting settled, really short actual sleep time.

Comments: With 1-hour long naps, I have enough time to go through my toss-and-turn sequence that I normally perform before falling asleep every night. Overall, the extended sleep-start schedule has allowed more consistent energy levels throughout the 24 hours. Now I don’t feel as horribly tired in the 10:00pm-1:30am slot, and stand a better chance of maintaining the sleep schedule until my body fully adapts to operating on autopilot.

The appetite is low in general, such that not only have I eaten fewer meals in the day, but also my nuts and dried fruit treats appear less appealing. Normally I would be able to eat copious amounts without stopping, while now there is a delicate point after which the snacks seem almost sickening, and I usually hit that point after a few mouthfuls. Not bad at all.

Day 5: Wed Jul 1

1:00am- Same abrupt feeling of  interrupting real sleep when alarm sounds.

5:00am- So sleepy that I fell asleep at 4:50, and woke at 5:50 without registering that the alarm had sounded. I don’t recall having turned it off at all.

9:00am- Not very sleepy, but no trouble falling asleep after toss-turn sequence.

1:00pm- Not very sleepy, but no trouble falling asleep after toss-turn sequence.

5:25-6:30- Was so immersed in reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged that I almost forgot about nap time.

9:20-10:00- A prospective roommate visited the apartment at 9:00, and I showed him around. Took most of the time trying to fall asleep before the alarm would sound.

Comments: I have kept up quite consistent levels of energy throughout the day, due to the extra nap time allowed to fall asleep. At this rate, I should be able to maintain this sleep schedule in the long term.

Day 6: Thu Jul 2

1:00am- Overslept until 6:00

9:00am- Skipped nap.

SWITCH to Everyman schedule

1:00pm- Didn’t fall asleep.

7:00pm- Didn’t fall asleep.

Comments: So much for the “extended sleep-start” method. It turns out that, according to Puredoxyk’s Ubersleep Book, trying to alter the length of naps to compensate for not falling asleep will only delay the necessary adaptation/sleep-deprivation phase; it is not recommended. Oops…of course someone would have tried (and failed) to weasel out of adaptation pain before I had even heard of polyphasic sleeping.

Day 7: Fri Jul 3

12:00am- Overslept until 6:00

6:50am- Overslept until 9:00

1:30pm- Napped on and off at work before shift.

7:30pm- Seemed to have fallen asleep, quickly turned off alarm, and promptly jumped up to eat dinner like a good polyphase napper.

11:30pm-7:00am- Clearly a sign of sleep deprivation that must be overcome in these first couple weeks, and the need for a loud second (or third) alarm.

*End Attempt*

Throughout most of the week during which I tried to convert to polyphasic sleeping, I was experiencing muscle soreness for the first time in months of consistent swim-bike-run training. As not one to be sore for several days at a time, I decided to wait until completing the Ironman before trying polyphasic sleeping.

Next time, I shall attempt the “Dymaxion” variant of polyphase, napping 30 minutes every 6 hours. Until August rolls around, stay tuned…

Most of the human world is, and will be, operating on a monophasic sleep schedule, taking one large chunk of shut-eye at night. We aren’t expecting schedule planners to be made for polyphasic sleepers anytime soon. Go figure.

For a polyphaser, that means that if you go out and buy one of those office-supply-store daily planners, there will only be space designated for scheduling daytime activities, and no space for your secret overnight schemes. Quite problematic.

To solve the affliction of store-bought planners, I have made customizable planner templates for people living on either the Uberman or Dymaxion sleep schedule. They are in Word Document form below:

Download: Uberman Planner Template

Download: Dymaxion Planner Template

The templates include evenly spaced blocks of time, of 4 or 6 hours. This will correspond with the respective nap times for a polyphaser.  It can also help you in designating your time to particular tasks between certain naps, and add a sense a focus to the euphoric time-dilation that comes with being awake for 22 hours a day.

For those on the more practical Everyman schedule, the following is a simplified version of the first two templates. No time blocks are included, but can be added to fit one’s needs.

Download: Everyman Planner Template

Alternatively, graveyard shift workers, on-call medical staff members, or other normal people who live on some unconventional schedule may find the 24-hour format of this template to be more accommodating than that of a regular day planner.

Now that you have customized and printed your template pages, how will you bring them together into an intensely-productive-looking planner?

*More steps to come soon…

Paths of LifeWhile everyone is proclaiming their New Year’s resolutions, in reality, it may be overwhelming to look a full year ahead and plan out all of the goals to achieve and projects to complete.

Similarly, I find it difficult to keep track of everything that has passed in an entire year, unless I review my progress more often.

Figuratively speaking, moving through life is akin to walking along a path in nature. There may be so many mountains, hairpin turns, and forks along the way that, after hours of charging forward, it may be hard to trace back exactly which climbs were surmounted and which turns were chosen. The situation becomes especially difficult when we realize we’re lost, or in a desert when we started in forest. Looking up and surveying the landscape every so often ensures that we are always moving in the right direction.

Conducting a review of your pursuits 3-4 times per year is frequent enough for detailed recall. At the same time, a review period of 3-4 months is enough time to allow for seeing the big picture and planning in the long term. When I review my academic quarter, I consider the following aspects in this order:

1) Past and Present– What just happened and where you are Now:


Big Pursuits



Side Projects

Mind Expansion- What did you learn in the last few months? What new perspectives can you now use to approach your life and projects? If you haven’t learned anything new, what has prevented you? Have you been too caught up in putting out fires that you’ve forgotten to look for the pastures beyond?

2) Big Picture– General Direction and Distance you want to go in the Next Few Years:

3)Near Future– Your Projected Path for Next Quarter/Semester:

Side Projects- Which new things are you going to try to learn or master in the next few months?

Academic- Which classes will you be taking next term?

*More to come soon…

1) Snag a copy of your school’s course catalog.

Depending on your school, course catalogs may be a) purchased at the campus bookstore, b) ordered online and shipped, and/or c) viewed online.

Since you’ll be making all sorts of circles, highlights, X’s, and other enthusiastic demarcations, I recommend using your roommate’s hard copy rather than your laptop screen.

2) Mark all of the classes that you want to take, ranging from “definitely!” to “maybe.”

If you have a general idea of which areas you like, start with those departments first.

A second option: If you have absolutely no idea as to which topics would interest you, then I highly encourage taking the time to read through the courses of every single academic department.

“Every single one!?” you say? By now you would have suddenly “remembered” your long-lost interest in Philosophy, Anthropology, or Geology, in hopes of avoiding the tedious process of taking the second option.

But, I was only half-joking. However much time it takes, a working familiarity with the classes-a-plenty available at your school will help during a mid-college crisis. It WILL happen. More about that here___.

3) Choose your potential majors.

There is a purpose for taking this step after, and not before, picking out the classes that interest you. Having already marked your potential classes in the catalog, it will now be easier to narrow down your school’s 500 majors to just a handful. So impressive that you’ll want to tell your friends.

You always want your major to fit the *specific* courses of your choice, not the other way around.

This is not, not not, the same thing as having your major fit your *general area* interests. A major that sounds appealing at first may require taking several undesirable classes. We don’t want to fall into the trap of conforming to a major program that doesn’t fit in the first place. More on choosing your major here___.

4) List the required courses for each potential major.

*Details to come…

“What is measured is managed.” Keep a log.

Dedicate a small notebook that can be carried with you anytime you may do reading, test review, or any other schoolwork outside of class.  Track entries of any and all work done daily, and tally up the hours at the end of each week.

Aim to lower your weekly total by 30-60 minutes every week. You can also indicate the class for which the work is being done, so you can look back later and see where most of your time is being spent (or wasted).

Here is an example entry from my log:

WEEK 2: 1/12 – 1/18/09 (5 hrs total)

Mon–45 min DISEASE ch 13 skim

Wed–60 min ENV STU wk1-2 make review questions

Thu–15 min BIOLOGY ch 22 skim

Fri–30  min DISEASE ch13 skim

Fri–45 min DISEASE ch 9 make review questions

Sun–30 min ENV STU ch1-3 skim

Sun–30 min EVOLUT wk1-2 handouts skim

The key to making this effective is to approach work with the mindset of “how can I get this done quickly?” instead of trying to act busy for as long as possible without making progress.

When your focus is on going in for the kill, you will no longer be stuck beating around the bush of procrastination.

As simple as this change in attitude may be, you can drastically reduce your work time by keeping a record of the time you spend on assignments.